Take The Heat Off Your Summer Holiday Information Security Worries This Festive Season

Johannesburg– With the festive and summer season upon us we are all guilty of slipping into holiday mode and forgetting about those everyday office tasks, such as protecting our confidential data. So before you fly off on that much-needed holiday, or make arrangements to work from home in order to keep the business going, be sure to put measures in place to help employees understand how to protect confidential information, and avoid a data breach.

Tony Fitzpatrick, Country Manager, Shred-it South Africa, said: “Working off-site can increase the chances of a data security breach. Although advancements in technology have made it easier for employees to work off-site, through the use of laptops and tablets, these devices pose a greater threat to security than most companies and employees realise, particularly if they are lost or left unattended in public places.”

Shred-it South Africa’s 2016 State of Industry Report  highlights that only one-third (32%) of SBOs have a policy for both off-site and home-working, while another third (36%) don’t have any policies in place at all. For C-Suite Executives, just over half (53%) have a policy for disposing and storing confidential information in both off-site environments and at home. This means that employees could be unwittingly putting business, customer or staff data at risk without even realising it.

To help businesses and their employees prepare for the festive holidays, Shred-it has offered six simple steps to take the heat off company information security worries and ensure protection from a potentially damaging data breach:

  1. Are your employees guilty of having a messy desk? Implement a Clean Desk policy: lock away confidential documents and work devices when not in use. Before staff leave for their holiday, ask them to tidy their work area and ensure that confidential information is safely secured or destroyed to stop data thieves from having easy access to important details.
  2. Install encryption technology on all company storage devices to protect your electronic devices. If staff need to log in while on holiday or do work from home using their work laptop or tablet, having a password set will help safeguard any confidential information stored on them.
  3. Ask your employees to write a log of the electronic equipment or USBs leaving the office with them over their holiday.
  4. Limit the amount of confidential data employees remove from the office. It is natural to think that they need to take information with them before jetting off, but the less confidential information they remove from the office, the less likely it is that it will fall into the wrong hands.
  5. Make sure your staff know how to securely dispose of work-related documents when they are not in the office. They mustn’t simply throw them in the rubbish or recycling when they no longer need them.  Also, personal strip shredders are not as secure as a professional cross-shredding service so they need to bear this in mind – confidential documents should be brought back to the office to be securely destroyed.
  6. Have an office clear out. Holidays allow us to clear our mind and come back to work feeling refreshed, so why not adopt this mantra into the company too? All that is needed is for employees to check their workspaces and make sure confidential information is either securely stored or disposed of by placing it in a secure console to be destroyed by a professional destruction service.